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Labor calls for royal commission into defence veteran suicide – politics live Labor calls for royal commission into defence veteran suicide – politics live
(32 minutes later)
The opposition leader, Anthony Albanese, says there have been more than 400 ‘senseless loss of life’ since 2001. Follow all the day’s politics – liveThe opposition leader, Anthony Albanese, says there have been more than 400 ‘senseless loss of life’ since 2001. Follow all the day’s politics – live
Angus Taylor is asked whether he has been interviewed by detectives attached to strike force Garrad, which is investigating allegations Taylor relied on a forged document to attack Sydney’s lord mayor, Clover Moore.
Taylor answers simply: “No.”
Over in the upper house, Labor has asked agriculture minister Bridget McKenzie when she became aware Nationals senator Perin Davey had arranged a meeting between irrigators concerned with the Murray Darling Basin Plan and water resources minister David Littleproud.
Labor’s Murray Watt heckles “you’ve been bypassed”, while McKenzie replies that she heard earlier in the week.
Glenn Sterle follows up by asking if McKenzie was invited. McKenzie replied “I’m not invited to a lot” of stakeholder meetings - in the same way that defence and skills ministers are not invited to every meeting. She said it is entirely appropriate that the meeting was organised with the water resources minister.
The treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, is attacking Labor for talking down Australia’s economy. Economic management has been the focus of Labor’s early attention in question time this week.
Frydenberg:
Scott Morrison is then again pressed on misleading the parliament. Anthony Albanese accuses him of misleading parliament in each of the last four sitting days. Morrison responds that Albanese is treating parliament like a “second-rate high school debating chamber” with his “stunts and his clever little lines”.
Labor accuses the prime minister of misleading parliament by claiming the government has not increased debt. Labor’s Jim Chalmers says the government has doubled Australia’s debt.
Scott Morrison describes Chalmers as “Obi Swan’s padawan” in his response.
Andrew Wilkie has a question on problems with access to firefighting assets and equipment during the elongated bushfire season. He asks:
David Littleproud responds to the crux of the question. He says he’s been assured by the Australasian fire and emergency service authorities council that the current access to equipment is suitable.
Just away from question time temporarily, Paul Karp filed this from the Coalition party room earlier:
At the Coalition joint party room, Scott Morrison suggested that all options are on the table on the issue of veterans’ mental health. While he didn’t explicitly say the Coalition is considering a royal commission, he said it is “giving active consideration to what further action we can take” over the Christmas period.
Morrison addressed the government’s decision to delay the religious discrimination bill, thanking the attorney general, Christian Porter, for his work to date and acknowledging that “within the party room there are different views – even more so across the community”.
Morrison said the government was “seeking the time to get this right” and credited the fact that “a listening and respect has been shown in the drafting process to date”.
Morrison wants the bill to bring people together on matters of faith and belief, and he “doesn’t want a partisan element to this process” to ensure smooth passage of the bill through parliament – an interesting hint that perhaps the Coalition needs Labor support to legislate it.
Morrison said the government was not backing down on the ensuring integrity bill – which will now be reintroduced to parliament.
Morrison also made some comparisons between his government and that of John Howard:
One backbencher asked the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, about penalties for banking executives - suggesting that fines hit shareholders so perhaps personal penalties for executives was the way to go.
Frydenberg responded that penalties had been increased but it was important to get the balance right so banks keep lending. The prime minister said there are provisions which allow for removal of individuals from the banking sector.
Labor continues to press its attack on the Coalition’s economic management. It results in the predictable response: Labor’s all about taxing and spending.
Things have gotten slightly out of control in the House. People seem upset. There’s some yelling. Some name-calling.
It’s been a long year, I suppose.
The deputy prime minister, Michael McCormack, gets up to answer a question. Evidently someone makes a quip about his, er, less-than-friendly interaction with farmers outside parliament this morning.
McCormack thunders in response:
Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon stands to raise a point of order.
McCormack:
McCormack continues on. Fitzgibbon gets up again.
McCormack:
The Speaker is telling everyone to sit down.
Morrison is asked a dixer on the economy.Morrison is asked a dixer on the economy.
He says the government is bringing the budget into surplus, not increasing taxes, and not growing debt.He says the government is bringing the budget into surplus, not increasing taxes, and not growing debt.
Jim Chalmers, the shadow treasurer, asks a question on the same topic. What will it take to wake the government up to the “floundering economy”? Jim Chalmers, the shadow treasurer, asks a question on the same topic: what will it take to wake the government up to the “floundering economy”?
Frydenberg responds:Frydenberg responds:
Labor’s Anthony Albanese begins question time with a call for the government to support a royal commission into veteran suicide.Labor’s Anthony Albanese begins question time with a call for the government to support a royal commission into veteran suicide.
The prime minister, Scott Morrison, says the suicide rate is far too high among veterans.The prime minister, Scott Morrison, says the suicide rate is far too high among veterans.
Morrison says the government will continue to reflect on the issue of a royal commission over the Christmas break.Morrison says the government will continue to reflect on the issue of a royal commission over the Christmas break.
He says every time a veteran suicides, there “must be justice”.He says every time a veteran suicides, there “must be justice”.
In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international suicide helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international suicide helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.
Bill Shorten is making a 90-second speech in the lower house on disability. Today is the international day of disabled persons, he says.Bill Shorten is making a 90-second speech in the lower house on disability. Today is the international day of disabled persons, he says.
Malcolm Roberts is on Sky News about One Nation’s shock decision to deny the government passage of its union busting legislation on Friday. Roberts reckons it was all about the merits of the bill, and not about a certain Queensland election and a possible union campaign against the party.Malcolm Roberts is on Sky News about One Nation’s shock decision to deny the government passage of its union busting legislation on Friday. Roberts reckons it was all about the merits of the bill, and not about a certain Queensland election and a possible union campaign against the party.
A little earlier, a group of civil society organisations gathered at Parliament House to demand the government rule out any changes to secondary boycott laws.A little earlier, a group of civil society organisations gathered at Parliament House to demand the government rule out any changes to secondary boycott laws.
Secondary boycotts have become an important tool in driving social change. But they have drawn the ire of government. Scott Morrison recently told the Queensland Resources Council they were “a potentially more insidious threat to the Queensland economy and jobs and living standards than a street protest”. Morrison at the time pledged to introduce mechanisms to outlaw what he said were “indulgent and selfish practices”.Secondary boycotts have become an important tool in driving social change. But they have drawn the ire of government. Scott Morrison recently told the Queensland Resources Council they were “a potentially more insidious threat to the Queensland economy and jobs and living standards than a street protest”. Morrison at the time pledged to introduce mechanisms to outlaw what he said were “indulgent and selfish practices”.
Oxfam, 350 Australia, Market Forces, the Australia Institute, the Australian Conservation Foundation and Uniting Church in Australia gathered to call for the government to rule out new laws outlawing secondary boycotts.Oxfam, 350 Australia, Market Forces, the Australia Institute, the Australian Conservation Foundation and Uniting Church in Australia gathered to call for the government to rule out new laws outlawing secondary boycotts.
They were backed by Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young, who said such a move would impinge on democratic rights.They were backed by Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young, who said such a move would impinge on democratic rights.
“Australians of all political persuasions value their rights and freedoms to support products, services and companies that align with their values,” she said. “More and more Australians are using their consumer power to make good environmental choices and their right to do so should be protected.”“Australians of all political persuasions value their rights and freedoms to support products, services and companies that align with their values,” she said. “More and more Australians are using their consumer power to make good environmental choices and their right to do so should be protected.”
Labor senator Catryna Bilyk is continuing. She asks the government senators:Labor senator Catryna Bilyk is continuing. She asks the government senators:
“Is this really why you entered politics? Was it really to deny healthcare to vulnerable people?”“Is this really why you entered politics? Was it really to deny healthcare to vulnerable people?”
The Senate is back debating the medevac repeal bill. Liberal senator Sam McMahon is warning of doom and death if the medevac law is allowed to stand. She says medevac is a weakening of Australia’s sovereign borders.The Senate is back debating the medevac repeal bill. Liberal senator Sam McMahon is warning of doom and death if the medevac law is allowed to stand. She says medevac is a weakening of Australia’s sovereign borders.
Labor senator Catryna Bilyk says the government believes “we can’t protect our borders and be compassionate at the same time”.Labor senator Catryna Bilyk says the government believes “we can’t protect our borders and be compassionate at the same time”.
This debate is likely to stretch on for some time. We still haven’t heard from Jacqui Lambie.This debate is likely to stretch on for some time. We still haven’t heard from Jacqui Lambie.
Katy Gallagher, Labor senator, is on the warpath over the government’s refusal to provide the Morrison-Fuller transcript. She tells the Senate the government’s explanation that it’s not in the public interest to release the documents is “ridiculous”, when “we’ve got the prime minister calling his friend ... who’s just announced they’re investigating one of his ministers”.
Cormann’s response to the order to produce the Morrison-Fuller transcript has been tabled. The full text of the letter is below.
Labor is furious at the government’s response to an order to produce the transcript of the Morrison-Fuller phone call about the Angus Taylor police investigation.
The Labor leader in the Senate, Penny Wong, read the government’s response to the Senate after it was provided to her at the outset of Senate proceedings by the finance minister, Mathias Cormann. The letter simply referred the Senate to previous answers and said the documents would be subject to a public interest immunity claim because they relate to a police investigation.
Wong:
Greens senator Nick McKim says it “beggars belief” that the government has not provided notes or a transcript of the Morrison-Fuller phone call about Angus Taylor.
The Senate ordered the government to produce a transcript and associated documents for the call between Scott Morrison and Mick Fuller about the Angus Taylor investigation.
Some news out of Queensland. The ABC is reporting that the LNP is taking disciplinary action against young LNP members over an online video showing one of its branch leaders laughing at comments about Indigenous Australians. The video was published on the Gold Coast Young LNP Facebook page.
A teenager in the video said:
“I mean, we’ve got to stop celebrating a culture that couldn’t even invent the bloody wheel for God’s sake. We’ve got to start enjoying and living in western culture.”
Gold Coast Young LNP’s chairman, Barclay McGain, was conducting the interviews.
The ABC reports that those involved in the video would face “internal disciplinary” action. The video has been removed.
The Senate is sitting and Labor’s Penny Wong is straight on the attack. Her target? Angus Taylor, of course. She’s criticising Taylor for providing no evidence to support his claim that the falsified document he relied on when attacking the Sydney lord mayor Clover Mooore came from the City of Sydney’s website.
NSW police are investigating the matter and Scott Morrison stoked controversy by calling the police chief Mick Fuller for an update on the status of the investigation.
Labor used the Senate to order the production of documents relating to the call, including a transcript. They received a one-page letter and no transcript.
Labor MPs have resolved to move an amendment to a government push to change the Customs Act, which will change the way the product-specific rules of origin of six of Australia’s free trade agreements are given effect domestically.
As Katharine Murphy has previously explained, the change would limit scrutiny, making some regulations (including provisions covering dumping, where countries “dump” goods in other markets at super cheap prices to try to expand market share) unable to be disallowed by the parliament.
Amid concern from some Labor MPs about the proposal, MPs have agreed to put forward an amendment to protect the parliamentary oversight of the use disallowable instruments.
Disallowable instruments are rules that must be tabled and are open to parliamentary veto or disallowance for a set period, usually 15 sitting days.
If the party’s amendments are not supported, Labor will vote against the bill.
It was an otherwise uneventful caucus meeting after Albanese’s earlier colourful comments, with the party agreeing to support a raft of non-controversial legislation.
After Labor agreed to call a royal commission into veterans’ suicide, one MP also raised the issue of Indigenous suicide.
Albanese said that he was “very conscious” of the importance of the issue and hoped to continue to work with the government on a bipartisan basis to address it.
The press gallery took on the pollies in basketball this morning. Looks from the photos like the journos employed a fairly deliberate strategy: bashing Ed Husic out of the game (Husic in headlock, Husic at bottom of pile-on).
Seems a sound tactic to me. But, alas, the journos went down.
Mike Bowers was down there for all the colour.
Ged Kearney, Labor MP, is speaking on the medevac repeal bill which is before the Senate. The critical vote rests with Jacqui Lambie, who is reportedly ready to give her support if the government agrees to the New Zealand resettlement deal, which would take the current cohort off Manus and Nauru. The government has shown little appetite for that proposal.
Kearney is asked whether securing the New Zealand deal would be a better outcome than salvaging medevac. She tells Sky News the Australian government can do the New Zealand deal and keep medevac.
She said the laws have nothing to do with national security. The minister can still refuse medical transfers on the grounds of national security.
John Barilaro, the deputy NSW premier, has been speaking on the Murray-Darling Basin plan. He is threatening to walk away from it (again) if changes are not made to better suit NSW.
Barliaro has a list of demands to be met by the federal government. He wants more water written out of the plan and for water management plans to be deferred until the end of the drought.
“If this plan does not work for NSW, we will have to walk away,” he said.
Barilaro is asked whether Gladys Berejiklian, the premier, knows of his announcement. He doesn’t directly answer the question.
But he says the opportunity for the federal government to negotiate with NSW is now. He says the commonwealth gave some indication last night that it was ready to talk.
We’ll have more on this story shortly.